Oil Price Already Surpasses the All-Time Peak—Maybe

How deep are consumers' woes? Well, it depends on how you do the math.

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Are we lurching toward an all-time, inflation-adjusted peak oil price, or have we already made history?

Trilby Lundberg, who compiles the widely watched Lundberg Survey of gasoline prices, has weighed in with the most surprising calculation so far. The peak was passed on October 29, when the $93.53 closing price decisively beat out the March 1981 price of $93.03 in today's dollars, she says in a report published in Convenience Store/Petroleum online magazine.

Lundberg takes the media to task for using other figures with little explanation of their source, but the Washington Post's Steven Mufson actually did a good job explaining that it all depends on how you calculate inflation and account for crude oil benchmarks, which were different in 1981 than they are today. The U.S. government says the peak was crossed yesterday, while the International Energy Agency is still waiting for $101.70 oil, which it says would be an inflation-adjusted record.